Beginner - Mom/Dad & 5 yr old twins


Mom & Dad along with 5yr old twins have interest in kayaking. We have a cottage near Plymouth, MA and would like advice about what used boat to buy. Would like a boat that can seat 2 people (Dad can go with Mom (no kids) or Dad can go with the kids (non Mom) or Dad can go alone). Would be paddling in Kingston Bay (across from Duxbury, MA) & Plymouth Bay.

Hopefully you won’t mind…
a “intermediate” replying !

First instead of looking for a used tandem, take a look at some new ones to get ideas.

Go to “Billington Sea Kayaks” and let them show you what they have or what they can get for you.

They are great people and very helpful.

They also will let you “demo” their boats right there.

I know your area well and have paddled all over Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth.

There are a couple of good launch places.

One is at Steven’s Field in Plymouth, another is at Nelsen’s Beach, and then there is a good one in Duxbury, on the right just before you go over the Powder Point Bridge.

All of these have free parking, and easy access to the water.

We always enjoy putting in at Steven’s field and then paddling around Plymouth Harbor and past the Mayflower

It is a good place safe for someone like your self, since the entire harbor is a no wake zone.

You can also head the opposite direction and explore the Eel River.

If you put in at the Powder Point bridge, you can head left under the bridge, and explore the marshes and estuary or turn right and head toward Duxbury Harbor and Kingston.

Always learn about and pay attention to your tides, since you can very easily get left high and dry and have to wait for a incoming tide.

I would advise against taking little ones out as the water temperature gets colder, and even next season, stay close to the shore and beaches.

Enjoy your new found hobby, and keep in mind that there are some great ponds over in the Pembroke area where you can paddle also.



cold water and little ones
Take the little ones out, but dress them at least as well as you dress yourself. Wetsuits are widely available for kids that age (I find them at my local outdoor store, and at Kittery Trading Post). I usually put my kids in long johns and a shorty wetsuit when I take them out paddling with me.

There are some double kayaks with a hatch between the cockpits that can serve as a 3rd cockpit for a kid. Probably not big enough for both kids, but perhaps on flat water it would work.

Hello, & Welcome Aboard!

P-NET’s a wonderful place to get answers and learn about paddling (they have canoeists, as well as kayakers, here, too -LOL!). But it’s an even better and more wonderful place to meet some really nice


Take Jack L, PLEASE! We met him and his lovely ‘bride’, Nanci, about 4-5 years ago, and paddle with them every year when they come to Florida. We’ve met & paddled with maybe a couple dozen, maybe more -of the P-NET contingent somewhere along the way, and like Will Rogers used to say, we’ve just about never met a man we wouldn’t like to paddle with again. Besides Jack, we also well know and thoroughly enjoy our friend Grayhawk from Key Largo. Jack & Nanci -and most of P-NET -know Grayhawk as well.

But beware: Jack’s a bald-faced liar. He’s an intermediate’ like I’m an Olympian. He & Nanci by now have paddled thousands of miles in kayaks and canoes all over the eastern US, & Alaska. And they’ve won or placed high in a ton of both kayak and canoe races over the years.

At any rate, I would also suggest if you’re looking for family rides with smaller kids that you

include tandem SOTs in your investigations. SOTs are Sit-On-Tops that are sometimes derided by some of the ‘cognoscenti’, but which are VERY family friendly, and a ton of fun, especially for beginners. The advantages are several:

  1. You can climb back on far more easily (some folks use them as dive boats, and some -especially kids -even use them for “stand-up, jump-in-the-water diving”) and they’re good swim platforms, especially for youngsters who are energetic and limber -heck, even an old guy like me at 60 can do it as well, LOL!

  2. Most rotomolded SOTs are well-nigh indestructible, made of polyethylene, and take a lickin’ and still keep tickin’ We’ve had our 2 SOTs for nearly 8 years now, stored outside in South Florida’s near-tropical climate, and they’re still in fine shape.

  3. They’re about the least expensive ones to buy, moreso if -as you note -you wisely begin by looking used. Except for 2, all of the 8 boats we’ve owned (we

    still have 6 racked in the back yard -send me an email, I’ll send you some pics) we bought used, at anywhere from 35 to 40% off. Heck, I even bought one of the new ones at 50% off, LOL! So good deals are out there. Check here, eBay, craigslist, and club websites in your area, as well as checking out local paddling shops.

    As a bonus, you can usually sell them for not too much less than you paid, if you either don’t continue paddling (horrors!), or want to transition to faster, slimmer, longer (and usually more expensive) boats in your future.

  4. They’re easy to jump in and start paddling -you don’t need a lot of good technique (tho’ it helps) -or, really, instructions, to get them to move on the water.

  5. They’re more stable -a LOT more stable! -than most SINKs -Sit-INside-Kayaks -and many if not most won’t tip over unless you try. That makes them reassuring to beginners, and good for kids.

    I would encourage you to also see what you’re doing as getting a SYSTEM, not just a kayak:

    Get good (comfortable enough to wear for extended periods) PFDs for you two and the kids -and wear them, please! Get ones to fit the twins -please don’t try to make a teen-size fit by over-cinching, just get them to fit in the first place. And about the kids -get the twins swimming as soon as you can if they don’t already. It makes for a much more enjoyable on-water experience if the person is a swimmer, for both the person -the kids in this case, and for the parents as well! But you know that.

    Get decent paddles -they’ll make propelling the boat a LOT easier! The simple, slab0sided ones you’ll most often see in WalMart, K-Mart, and other big boxes will “work”, but so will you: they’re just really inefficient. AT the very least, get decent ones for the parents.

    Get a good rack system to carry them on the car -and maybe, a cart system to carry them to/from the car as well. it’ll make life a lot easier, I’ll wager, to tote your relatively heavy boats with the gear on them on some sort of cart with the kids along-side, maybe pulled by you with mom pulling the smaller single you allude to wanting to use solo, for a family outing, than it will for two adults to carry one boat down, rteturn for number two, and shuttle gear and kids along the way as well. Just a thought…

    And finally, consider getting some paddling clothes -except for the height of summer, cotton is verboten! If you or the kids spill in cold water (personally, living in Miami8, and kayaking Sunny South Florida and the Fabulous Florida Keys, all you guys’ water is cold, even in mid-summer!) it will help to have clothes that won’t hold cold, as well a act as a sunscreen when wet, and be a synthetic quick-dry material.

    Check with your local paddling clubs and/or shops -as Jack suggests -for more information.

    Good Luck, and may you have MANY days of happiness and pleasure and family fun as you


    Frank in Miami

Start easy
Maybe stick close to shore and have an adult walk along shore just in case. Life vest ( aka PFD’s ) are a must. The kids will love having someone on shore to yell… " hey look mom !!!" Also good photo op for some memories so have shore walker armed with a camera. have fun !!!